Tamilnadu Assembly Election Results:
A Punishment As Well As A Warning
elying all predictions of a close contest, the AIADMK front won 203 out of 234 seats. The ruling DMK – Congress combine was virtually routed. While Mamata and her allies secured 34 lakh votes more than the left front in 294 seats, UDF secured a mere 1.7 lakh votes more than the LDF in Kerala, Jayalalitha and her allies trounced their rivals by a thumping margin of 45.55 lakh votes.
The people of Tamilnadu punished the DMK-Congress combine in a big way. They voted in anger against both the central and state governments. The neo-liberal agenda pursued by UPA II and DMK heaped sufferings on the people. Price rise, scams, deepening agrarian crisis, crippling power cuts, family rule of DMK supremo Karunanidhi and his satraps spreading tentacles in various spheres of life, their arrogance in taking law into their own hands, all this contributed to this big rout. Barring a few exceptions all the leaders had to bite dust.
Karunanidhi was confident that he could retain power because of the Lok Sabha elections victory in 2009, subsequent victories in more than a dozen of bye elections, defections from AIADMK and MDMK and measures of welfare populism.
Karunanidhi expected that like the election manifesto of 2006 assembly elections, which was described as a ‘hero’ by P Chidambaram, his promises in the 2011 manifesto will save him. This again was described in the filmy language as ‘heroine’. His hero, mainly the promise of 55 lakh acres of land to 27.5 lakh rural poor families, performed the vanishing trick. His heroine bombed at the box office. He wanted the people of TN to be grateful to him for the 1 kg rice scheme, 108 ambulances, free colour TVs, health insurance and concrete housing schemes. On the eve of election, he even pleaded with the electorate for an opportunity to serve as their humble servant.
But welfare populist ointments only rubbed salt in the wounds inflicted by his neo-liberal agenda and its offshoots. TN people lashed back with a vengeance.
The Irony of J Following K
In 2006, Karunanidhi on assuming office signed his first file providing rice at Re.1 per kg. Jayalalitha, who was bemoaning the ‘freebies’ like a ‘great’ economist, had to eat the humble pie, and Amma who has to unleash her neo-liberal agenda, is following in the footsteps of Ayya in ‘welfare populism’. Jayalalitha signed 7 files on assuming office, relating to enhanced rations; marriage assistance schemes for women, enhanced monthly pensions for the old, differently abled, destitute women and widows; assistance for fisherfolk during the period of ban on fishing for breeding and so on.
She has also followed in the DMK path lacing welfare with liquor. The DMK government made revenue of Rs.50,000 crore during its 5 years rule from the sale of liquor in the government run TASMAC wine shops. In 2010-2011 the state government’s revenue was Rs.71,000 crores. Out of this, Rs.14,000 crore filled the government coffers from TASMAC sales.
Millions of families mainly the poorer sections are affected by these government run liquor shops. Women are affected and families ruined. Education, health and other basic social sector activities are handed over to the private sector. Liquor companies are fattened and the greasing of palms will continue. Here again J will tread the path of K.
We ran a vigorous campaign. When the official left were mere camp followers of Jayalalitha, ours was the only voice of independent left. In terms of funds, in terms of big number of activists participating, in terms of reach, this was our best campaign till date. Ours was the only plank which brought the nexus between corruption and the corporates into focus. We campaigned for putting an end to the dead weight of bipolar Kazhagams’ rule in TN. But our continuous weakness in grass root level work, our failure in emerging as a socio-political trend, haunted us in this election also. Mettupalayam, Ulundurpettai and Colachel constituencies have given us hopes to build upon and banish our weakness.
Mettupalayam 1433, Gandarvakottai 824, Ambattur 494, Sriperumbudur 405, Ulundurpettai 1751, Tirunelveli 695, Colachel 1566, Madhavaram 408, Kumarapalayam 338, Thiruvidaimarudur 333, Sholavandan 247
Caveats From Amma
Jayalalitha has said that her poll promises will be fulfilled within one and a half years. Perfect timing for the Lok Sabha elections. But she has also narrated the obstacles in her way. She said that she had restored the fiscal health of the state twice in 1991 and 2001 when she was handed over a totally ruined economy. As she says, “this time around, the ruin that has been wrought, the havoc that has been wrought in TN is beyond description. First this debris has to be cleared and then the house has to be rebuilt. It is not an easy task”. Jayalalitha has more promises to keep: 3 cent house site pattas, eco-friendly houses, free laptops, goats and cows, clean drinking water etc.
There may be change in form and style in the method of governance. But the leopard does not change its spots. The neo-liberal beast with all its ferocity will be unleashed on the people of TN, in the name of growth and development. Jayalalitha will strike soon and continue to strike.
With Jayalalitha going soft on Corruption and Congress, and with a veritable electoral decimation of DMK, the coming days should see exciting possibilities beyond bipolarity in TN.